As regular readers know, through this blog and the forthcoming 17th edition of Essentials of Marketing (publishing in February 2020) we have taken on the mission of highlighting organizations that are marketing for a better world (#M4BW).
Students don’t often think about how Place and choice of distribution channel can differentiate a product or deliver value (often through convenience). And not too many of us think about vending machines as a channel of distribution for much more than snacks and soft drinks. That is why this example, where the Applestone Meat Co. offers self-serve vending machines stocked with vacuum-sealed packages of meat, including everything you might expect to buy at a high-end butcher shop: Porterhouse steaks, rack of lamb, sausages, and ground beef. You can read more, and perhaps clip an image to drop into your slides when you cover Place in Chapters, 10, 11 and 12.
As an aside, if you, like me, didn’t get the “Horn & Hardart” reference in the article’s title, check out this Wikipedia entry and learn a little history.
It’s the start of a new semester and the newest freshman at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA is Pepsi’s new Snackbot. Developed in partnership with Robby Technologies, these self-driving robots will make snacks and beverages available to college students (and presumably staff!). Pepsi envisions this new channel of distribution as a way of capitalizing on changes in student dining as packed schedules push students to quick, on-the-go options. You can read more about this new project in Pepsi’s press release.
MediaPost recently published this article reporting that Amazon’s viewership of live-streamed Thursday night NFL games is up 22% to 14.7M viewers so far this season. For reference, this averages to ~2M streamers per game as compared to ~13M TV viewers per game. These streams are differentiated from traditional TV broadcast by offering alternate audio commentary from an all-female duo. Amazon is streaming these games on their Twitch platform which is primarily used for eSports streaming. Amazon has already signed a deal with the NFL for streaming rights for the 2019 season. This should represent a win-win for the NFL and Amazon. For the NFL, this helps them stay relevant in an increasingly mobile viewing world and adding these viewers should help Amazon strengthen their Twitch platform and provides additional opportunity for new advertising revenue.
Sports marketing tends to be inherently popular with students but it might be worth talking about how this illustrates distribution channel strategy. While we often think about the channel in terms of retailers, wholesalers, and warehousing, channel decisions apply just as much to digital services as they do to physical goods.
Coca-Cola is looking at getting into the cannabis-infused drink business. You won’t be able to get high off the drink since it uses a non-psychoactive component (CBD) in marijuana. Nevertheless, the story is garnering a lot of media attention and Coca-Cola says the industry has significant potential. You can read more about the story here.
Ask your students to put together a marketing strategy for the new Coke drink. Who do they define as the target market? Why? Students often see themselves as the largest market segment for products that they like and this can be a good opportunity to push them to think more broadly. Beyond the target market, what would their marketing mix look like? How would they treat the cannabis component? Would they downplay it or make it front and center? Why? Would they have to implement new logistical processes or distribution channels? There are many different directions you could take this discussion.